Tired of exploring Kentucky’s innumerable natural attractions or attending an incomparable horse race at the Kentucky Derby? Highly unlikely, but if you are looking for something more interactive, head to one of the state’s many amusement parks. With dedicated spaces for toddlers, kids, teens, and adults alike, the parks offer exciting rides, waterparks, wave pools, and even miniature golf courses and faster-than-light raceways. The Kentucky Splash Waterpark and Campground has an 18,000-square-foot wave pool that will toss and turn everyone in the pool if they don’t tame the waves. If you want something more classic like bumper cars or a ride on the Ferris wheel, then head to Kentucky Kingdom. No matter where you decide to go, a day at one of the amusement parks below is a day well spent. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Beech Bend Park
3.Kentucky Splash Waterpark and Campground
Best Kentucky Amusement Parks
- Beech Bend Park, Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Lund - Fotolia.com
- Kentucky Kingdom, Photo: Courtesy of Timo - Fotolia.com
- Kentucky Splash Waterpark and Campground, Photo: Courtesy of Tropical studio - Fotolia.com
- SomerSplash Waterpark, Photo: Courtesy of Viliam - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Aneese - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight in Kentucky: Belle of Louisville
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Belle of Louisville is a fully operational steamboat from 1914. Visitors will step back in time as they board the revolutionary boat and cruise the Ohio River in style on a piece of living American history. Whether it’s a casual cruise, a corporate event, or even a wedding, this boat is sure to make any occasion special.
The Belle of Louisville was built and designed by James Rees & Sons Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1914. The boat was then named Idlewild and served as a ferry between Memphis, Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas.
During the 1930s, the Idlewild spent years traveling through various waterways in Canada and the Gulf of Mexico until ultimately returning to Louisville. After that, the Belle remained in Louisville all the way through the World War II era. In the 1940s, the Idlewild began hosting beautiful moonlight cruises and USO events to help fund World War II. By 1949, the Belle was officially renamed the Avalon and became the most extensively traveled river steamboat in all of American history.
In the 1960s, the Belle was purchased yet again and received her current name, The Belle of Louisville. In 1963, after years of rebuilding efforts, The Belle started her new life as a racing steamboat in the First Great Steamboat Race.
By 1988, she was the highlight of steamboat history and was recognized as the nation’s oldest and most authentic river steamboat. She celebrated her 100th birthday in the year 2014 with a 5-day party on the waterfront.
Currently, The Belle offers a variety of cruises and events all year round. She is fully heated and air conditioned, has a dance floor, stage, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and even a concession and snack bar.
There are a variety of specialized cruises offered all year round for visitors to discover, however, daily sightseeing lunch and dinner cruises are the most popular. Cruises are typically 2 hours long with lunch cruises launching at noon and the dinner cruises launching at 7:00pm.
Through the months of April – October, there are 650 sightseeing cruises offered, while through the months of November – March, there are 200 sightseeing cruises offered. Some upcoming specialized cruises are the following:
Mother’s Day Brunch: This cruise will launch at noon on May 14, 2017 and includes a fabulous brunch buffet for visitors and their moms. The cruise along the Ohio River will be 2 hours long and is sure to give mom a special day to remember.
Mother’s Day Dinner: This cruise will launch at 5:30pm on May 14, 2017 and includes a fantastic evening with a dinner buffet. The cruise along the Ohio River will be 2 hours long and is sure to give mom a special evening to remember.
Louisville Crashers Dance Cruise: This cruise departs at 8:00pm on May 27, 2017 and is the official launch of the cruising season. This 2-hour cruise is complete with fabulous music, dancing, concessions, and a cash bar.
McAlpine Lock Brunch Cruise: This 4-hour cruise will depart at 1:00pm on May 28, 2017 and features a cruise through McAlpine Lock with a narrated history of the area.
Moonshine / Moonlight Cruise: This cruise departs at 10:00pm on June 3, 2017 and is 1.5 hours long. This late-night party is sponsored by Kentucky Peerless Lucky Moonshine and features a moonshine tasting and a dance party with a DJ.
Father’s Day BBQ: This 2-hour cruise departs at 1:00pm on June 18, 2017 and is sure to give dad a day to remember. It comes complete with a BBQ buffet lunch alongside a steamboat adventure.
Independence Day Sightseeing Cruise: This annual cruise features cocktails, an evening buffet, and a grand finale filled with fireworks and dancing. Come celebrate Independence Day with the Belle of Louisville.
Belle of Louisville, 401 West River Road, Louisville, KY 40202, Phone: 866-832-0011
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Attraction Spotlight in Kentucky: Muhammad Ali Center
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Muhammad Ali Center has three galleries that feature dozens of educational exhibits showcasing the life and legacy of the world-famous boxer, Muhammad Ali. Visitors will experience interactive exhibits, historical videos, and countless historical images and artifacts about how Ali achieved greatness and the significant impact he has had on the world.
The Muhammad Ali Center was founded in 2005 in honor of the world-famous boxer and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali. The center has built its exhibitions and programming around Ali’s six core principles that led to his success: Dedication, Confidence, Spirituality, Conviction, Respect, and Giving.
Currently, the center is focused on the upcoming one-year anniversary of Ali’s death. The “I Am Ali” Festival is being scheduled in his honor and includes a showing of his memorial service video.
Orientation Theater: Visitors will begin their journey into the life of Ali at the five-screen Orientation Theater, where they will be immersed in the film “If You Can Dream.” This 14-minute film is a brief overview of his life and introduces visitors to all of the exciting things they will learn at the museum.
Ali the Artist: This exhibition features the poetry and artwork completed by Ali during his time as an artist. The works are featured on a large gallery wall, where visitors can enjoy it while waiting for the orientation film to begin.
Journeylines: This section of the gallery features interactive stories and highlights from Muhammad Ali’s life.
The Pavilions: Ali aimed to live his life via six core principles: Dedication, Confidence, Spirituality, Conviction, Respect, and Giving. The center aims to follow the same principles and also represents each of these core values via six interactive pavilions.
The Dedication Pavilion explains how Ali set goals and utilized his tremendous focus and commitment to achieve his success. The Confidence Pavilion demonstrates how Ali never let his confidence waver and utilized this inspirational perspective to aid in the Civil Rights Movement. The Spirituality Pavilion expresses how Ali experienced his own personal journey and how this journey helped him find peace, truth, and meaning in his life. The Conviction Pavilion shows how Ali put his beliefs into practice when he stuck by his religious beliefs and refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War and then handled the backlash and criticism with grace and honesty. The Respect Pavilion features his journey of personal growth, change, and maturation into someone who earns respect from others through humility. The Giving Pavilion features Ali’s belief in charitable acts and how it transitioned into him becoming a prominent humanitarian.
The Greatest: This chronological timeline gallery features Ali’s professional career and achievements in the boxing ring. Large photographs and historical interviews are sure to delight sports enthusiasts of all ages.
Train with Ali: This exhibition is a replica of Ali’s training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. Visitors can experience what it’s like to train like Ali and learn the techniques of the sport.
Ali, All the Time: This exhibit features 15 of Ali’s most famous fights, which can be viewed on-demand in the comfortable viewing lounge.
Lighting the Way: In this exhibit, visitors can feel what it was like for Ali to light the Olympic Cauldron at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. The torch that Ali used and his replacement gold medal are even on display in this exhibit.
Gen Ali Story Booths: Visitors can record their own inspirational stories and listen to those of other visitors.
Muhammed Ali Humanitarian Timeline & Awards: This exhibit features the timeline of Ali’s charitable events and his numerous humanitarian awards.
Poster Pledge: Visitors can commit to a pledge of their own and take a souvenir photo home as a memento!
Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth Street, Louisville, KY 40202, Phone: 502-584-9254
Best Things to Do in Louisville, Kentucky
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Attraction Spotlight in Kentucky: Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is known as one of the greatest sports museums in the world. It is also famous for creating the most popular baseball bat in America.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and celebrating the extraordinary contribution that the Louisville Slugger has made in baseball. It pursues a dedication to delighting baseball lovers of all ages and helping them create joyful memories that will last a lifetime.
The Louisville Slugger company started making baseball bats in 1884 and have been doing factory tours for just as long. But the history of the company that originally started it all begins in 1856, when a German immigrant by the name of J. Frederick Hillerich opened a woodworking shop and became an instant success.
The woodworking shop continued to thrive over the next 20 years, when in 1880, Bud, the eldest son of J. Frederick Hillerich, became an apprentice at the shop. Bud was a lover of baseball and an amateur player of the sport. He would make baseball bats in the shop for himself and his teammates.
One day in 1884, Bud skipped work to attend an Eclipse game, the Major League team of Louisville. While watching the game, Bud watched baseball megastar Pete Browning break his bat and offered to make him a new one. Legend has it that Pete Browning made three homerun hits with the bat that Bud made for him. It just so happened that Pete Browning’s nickname was “The Louisville Slugger”.
Bud’s father was not interested in adding baseball bats to the items produced at the woodshop; he believed that there was more money in creating a popular swinging butter churn. Bud pressed on with his plans for creating baseball bats, and even patented the creation process.
The business continued to grow and “Louisville Slugger” became a registered trademark of their company in 1894. Bud was made a partner at his father’s company in 1897 and the company has only continued to grow since then, with the Louisville Slugger as their most popular product.
Factory Tour: Visitors can take a guided tour of the famous factory where the Louisville Slugger baseball bats have been made since 1884. The tour takes visitors right through the active production line where they can smell the wood, see wood chips fly, hear historical stories, and even watch the bats get branded. To top it off, every visitor on the tour receives a free miniature Louisville Slugger bat as a souvenir.
Big Bat & Big Glove: Visitors can also see the world’s largest baseball bat – at more than 120 feet high, the bat weighs 68,000 pounds and is made of pure steel. It is a large-scale replica of baseball legend Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger bat. A 17-ton sculpture of a giant baseball glove made from 450-million-year-old Kentucky limestone is on display for visitors to climb on and take photos with. The younger visitors will be especially charmed with this sculpture.
Signature Wall: This exhibit features a wall filled with hundreds of signatures from famous baseball players who signed contracts with Louisville Slugger. Visitors can touch the autographs and take pictures next to their favorite player’s signature.
Batter Up!: This hands-on exhibit lets visitors hit baseballs with a Louisville Slugger in Bud’s Batting Cage. They can use bat replicas of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Derek Jeter. At the Batter Up! area, visitors can test their skills as a pitcher by throwing balls at their pitching simulator.
Hold a Piece of History: As crazy as it might sound, in this exhibit, visitors get to actually hold the baseball bats used by the greatest baseball players of all time. They are not stuck behind glass cases or put on high shelves out of reach – visitors can hold, swing, and enjoy these real pieces of history up-close and personal.
Must-see Bats: This exhibit highlights the most precious bats in the museum’s collection. It features famous baseball bats like the Babe Ruth Notched Bat, the Joe DiMaggio 56 Game Hit Streak Bat, and the Hank Aaron 700th Home Run Bat. All of these bats are complete with autographs and a detailed history of the bat and its owner.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, 800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202-2620, Phone: 877-775-8443
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